Working in Disneyland. Not.

PING PONG
Creative Commons License photo credit: Max Braun

A few weeks ago, we talked about the importance of strategic delegation and how it might just enable you to enjoy a phone call free vacation, much less free up some hugely important strategic thinking time.

When I was in the photography software business, I quickly learned that photographers absolutely detest being pulled out of the camera room to answer the phone.

Likewise, if I emailed them about something urgent (usually because they said it was urgent), theyâ??d often respond hours later saying that they had been in the camera room and hadnâ??t seen my email.

It’s not as if they were hiding from us. Usually we were trying to contact them to help them resolve a problem, train them or answer a question.

But you don’t pull them out of the camera room.

It’s not Disneyland

The camera room isnâ??t a magical place, but it is where they make their money. Itâ??s where the backgrounds, props, lights and cameras are. Itâ??s where their clients are when they are creating their masterpiece, which results in revenue. They DO NOT like being interrupted while they are in there, just in case I wasn’t clear.

Technical jobs (programming, engineering, etc) work the same way. While performing detailed, highly-technical work; these workers despise being interrupted. We get into the zone, into a flow, we get clear, whatever you call it.

Interrupting us from this work after immersing ourselves in it is expensive and annoying. It takes a while (15-20 minutes or more) to get back to the zone where we can be productive with all the right stuff in our head.

And then the door to your office opens because someone wants to know where the toilet paper is or what place we have planned for lunch.

In an instant, youâ??re out of the zone. Even if you aren’t “technical”.

Produce a Procedures Manual

One thing that helps reduce these interruptions is having a procedures manual. Just because itâ??s called a manual doesnâ??t mean it has to be printed. It might be a wiki or a really long MS Word document. It doesnâ??t matter as long as it is documented and accessible by anyone who needs to perform a task at your business.

This manual might prevent you from getting a call on a Sunday afternoon at dinner time because someone went into the office to plan their week (or pick up something they forgot), and realized that they donâ??t know how to turn on the alarm.

Or the alarm is going off and the police are there and they want to know how to turn it off, so they call you while you’re in the doctor’s office, on the beach, etc. Worse yet is when they can’t reach you, so they leave without turning the alarm on, or similarly less-than-ideal situations.

Important Safety Tip

There is no process that must be done regularly in your business that is too trivial to leave out of this documentation.

Yes, I said no process too trivial.

One reason I suggest that is that someday you will have a new employee. They will start at the bottom. They won’t know anything.

And they’ll pull you out of the camera room (or your equivalent) every five minutes to ask you about this or that if you don’t have anything else (like a procedures manual) to provide this instruction.

Certainly there will be enough face to face contact as it is. In the old consultant’s home, you’ll hear us muttering something along the lines of “What’s worse than spending the time and effort to train an employee who stays for years? NOT training them and having them stay for years.”

I know you’ll train them. Really I do. Still, there are things that simply shouldn’t require hands-on training. They might be performed by a temporary employee.

These tasks will often be mundane, ranging from opening the store, to packaging to closing the store at the end of the day to turning off the alarm when set off by mistake.

Each is one less “really good reason” to pull you (or someone else) out of the zone.

Grab a Bounty and wipe it up. NOW.

Today’s guest post comes from the legendary Tom Peters.

Tom’s comments relate well to a post here at Business is Personal about a famous Donald Trump restroom maintenance story – and probably to a Leona Helmsley story or two.

Details. Details. Details.

Can you find 10 little details today?

Imagine how much better your business will be if these 10 items are better, cleaner, sharper or faster tomorrow, much less next week.

Those 10 little details are marketing – and the best part of that is that most competitors will never see it that way.

Yet Disney does.

Here’s another detail for you: If you aren’t reading Tom’s blog, you should be. I could be more blunt about it, but I shouldn’t have to be.

Even Disney’s doing it – treating customers on their birthday

[audio:http://www.rescuemarketing.com/podcast/DisneyBirthdays.mp3]

You know, we’ve talked about this before. 

I’m speaking of the marketing value of keeping track of your customers’ birthdays. 

I know, I know. People won’t give them to you. If so, it’s because you aren’t asking the right way – or you aren’t making the sale.

This is a sale as well. If you told them they were getting something of value as a gift in exchange for telling you what month they were born, most people will sign up. You don’t need the day or the year in order to give them something special for their birthday. 

Don’t waste energy worrying about the ones who don’t join your birthday program – spend your energy on making sure your offer is doing a good job of illustrating the value of the birthday program. 

In the past, we talked about the restaurants (for example) that use this to fill their reservation calendar. Even if you don’t take reservations, you can use this strategy. 

These days, even Disney is doing it

Recently, Disney started offering a free day pass to their parks on their guest’s birthday. If you’ve been to Disney or looked at their pricing, you know that this is not a cheap gift. A one day pass to Disney World is $75.

So why would they do this?

The same reason you should be offering a free dessert or entree or buy-one-get-one (or half or whatever) to your customers on their birthday – because almost no one eats alone on their birthday.

If your family of 4 goes out to Uncle Ralphie’s Gourmet Pizza for dinner tonight for dad’s birthday because dad gets to eat free – you’re still going to buy a meal for everyone else at the table.

Obviously you have to know your numbers to make the right kind of offer, and you might have to tweak it over time, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be a profitable event on average.

As for Disney’s reasoning – it’s no different.

Who goes to Disney World by themselves? Sure, there are exceptions. Do you make decisions based on the actions of the 1% or 99%?

Speaking of… happy birthday, Russ. (See, that wasn’t so hard)